Another day, another (threatened) libel lawsuit. Such is the state of America’s public life as the glorious year 2017 limps to a close.
This time, the impugned, affronted dignity belongs to Roy Moore, the firebrand hard-right GOP Senate candidate in Alabama. Moore is threatening to sue The Washington Post for the report, first published on Thursday of last week, that Moore engaged in sexual relations with women as young as 14 years old .
The two-time former Alabama supreme court judge adamantly denies the charges, dismissing the report as “fake news.”
Moore, who won notoriety for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, told an audience at a conference hosted by the Christian Citizen Task Force in Huntsville, Alabama, on Sunday night the newspaper “will be sued” for the statutory rape allegations.
For its part, WaPo noted the original report was based on the statements of four women and 30 sources familiar with the events. At a campaign event on Saturday, Moore also suggested he will investigate his accusers, hinting at political motivations: “Isn’t it strange after 40 years of constant investigation, that people have waited four weeks before a general election to bring their complaint? That’s not a coincidence.”
Rather, Moore said, the WaPo report is a “desperate attempt to stop my political campaign.”
On Monday afternoon the Republican Party was rattled by the news that a fifth woman was coming forward with allegations against Moore, represented by Gloria Allred, the high-profile attorney involved in a number of rape and harassment lawsuits.
Senate leader Mitch McConnell and several other GOP Senators have publicly called on Moore to withdraw.
Threats of lawsuits have become a standard part of crisis response for scandals. In October, defenestrated Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein initially responded to revelations of misbehavior by threatening to sue The New York Times, vowing to seek $50 million in damages — though subsequent revelations have likely put paid to that plan.